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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

This Week at SUMO: Network and Doubt

<an style="font-weight: bold">Network

Network is at SUMO again this weekend. For the second time this year I will tell you, Carleton, that this is a renowned movie that I just didn’t like that much. It’s really important culturally; its been referenced by everyone in the world and their uncle. But its one of those films where you can’t really like a single character, and, I feel, you’ve got other things to do this warm and sunny weekend than to hear about how sucky the world is.

That’s what this movie is about, really. Howard Beale is a TV anchor. He is fired for low ratings. He blows up on air (not literally, that would make for a short movie), ranting that he is “mad as hell, and [he’s] not going to take it anymore!” The new network exec, Faye Dunaway, (who looks like she will break in a weak wind) loves it. She gives him a show, and Howard Beale becomes a sort of anti-prophet. They sell his anger just like they’d sell any other show, and he goes farther and farther off the deep end. So does she, as she tries to find ever increasingly provocative and violent programming to win viewers and ratings.

It is, I suppose, a self-reflexive look at television production, and a pretty harsh look at that. Everyone exploits everyone in this world. Maybe a small part of why this movie is so revered is the entertainment industry’s guilt complex? Anyway, watch the “I’m Mad as Hell Scene” and you’ll start seeing it everywhere. And if you’re really into dark, dark, dark humor, this movie is for you. For everyone else, you should probably watch Studio 60 instead. It’s like Network by Aaron Sorkin, so basically really great.


The combination of okay filmmaking and excellent acting makes Doubt a pretty good movie. I saw it on the plane home from London after 10 weeks of seeing the best stage productions playing, but Meryl Streep, Amy Adams, Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Viola Davis surpassed every actor I’d seen by miles.

Meryl Streep is conservative, conventional, strict and severe Sister Aloysious. Phillip Seymour Hoffman is the new, cool priest in town, Father Flynn; Sister Aloysious disdains his loose and liberal attitude. Amy Adams is the sheltered, naïve and big-eyed (that role that she does so well) Sister James, stuck between her fear/ respect for Sister Aloysious and Father Flynn’s amiability and easy charm. When one of Sister James’ students returns from a meeting in the rectory with Father Flynn, shaken and smelling of altar wine, Sister James reports to Sister Aloysious. Sister Aloysious makes it her own crusade to out Father Flynn for his inappropriate relationship with the student; Sister James is shocked that the strictly pious senior nun will sin, lie, to do it.

Clearly it’s not the most action-packed of movies, but it doesn’t need to be. You can’t get bored watching these geniuses do their work, especially when powerhouses Streep and Hoffman dual, or Viola Davis is on screen at all; that woman can act.

Don’t go see it if you’re expecting anything more than a play on film, or if you don’t deal well with ambiguous endings. Writer John Patrick Stanley told only the stage actor playing Father Flynn, and Phillip Seymour Hoffman the truth about Father Flynn– I hope this doesn’t give too much away, I just thought it was a fascinating bit of trivia you can drop when Doubt comes up in conversation, even if you don’t go see it this weekend. Which you should, ’cause it’s pretty good.

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